Research policy

Our universities lead the world in science and research, but government must invest more if we are to maximise the benefits to the economy, society and people's everyday lives. 

woman looking into a microscopt in a bright lab


Over three-quarters of all publicly-funded research and development takes place in a university, and this is money well spent:

  • The last national assessment of research quality in the UK's universities, the Research Excellence Framework, found that 76% of the submitted work was internationally excellent or world-leading.

  • With just 1% of the world's population, we produced 16% of the most highly cited research articles.

However, government can do more to support UK science and research in universities. Greater public investment is needed if we are to maximise the benefits and impact of our world-leading research base.

We are ​focused on helping government and other stakeholders to deliver this objective - our priorities are​:

  1. To secure long-term, sustainable investment in UK science and research in universities

  2. To ensure that the policy, governance and administrative environment supports excellent research in universities

  3. To provide support, advice and guidance to help enhance the quality and reputation of UK science and research

  4. To communicate the benefits of university-based science and research to the economy, society and people's everyday lives

Our work on science and research policy is informed by the Research Policy Network, chaired by Professor Paul Boyle (Vice-Chancellor, Swansea University).

Our work on science a​nd research:

  • Funding, infrastructure and assessment to support world-class research
  • Open access and open data
  • Research using animals
  • Research integrity and misconduct
  • Public engagement with research
  • Researcher careers and support
  • Universities UK Research Policy Network

Funding, infrastr​ucture and assessment to support world-class research

In order to remain at the forefront of the global research community, we need to ensure that our universities have the resources and support to fulfil their potential

We make the case to government for continued and increased investment in science and research, setting out the evidence base for greater public investment in our universities . We also represent the university interest, working with government, funders and other stakeholders  to ensure that the UK policy environment supports world class research

Open acc​ess and open research data

We believe that all of the UK's publicly-funded research should be available to the public, for free. Open access makes research more transparent, rigorous and efficient; stimulates innovation; and promotes public engagement.

To support the move towards open access we convene the Universities UK Open Access Coordination Group, which brings together representatives from across the scholarly process, including research producers, funders and publishers, to coordinate and monitor progress.

Similarly, we are engaged with open research data, which improves the accessibility and reuse of the data underpinning research publications. We contribute to this agenda as a member of the Open Research Data Forum and the Open Research Data Taskforce​.

More information is available on our Open Science​ page.

Research u​sing animals

Many of our members are engaged in essential research using animals, and are subject to one of the most comprehensive and robust regulatory systems in the world. Recognising that such research is necessary and has the potential to deliver significant benefits, we encourage our members to:

  • be open and transparent in their research practices

  • follow best practice in husbandry and welfare at all times

  • actively engage with the 3Rs agenda

We sit on the governance group of the Concordat on openness on animal research in the UK, of which we are also signatories.

Research​​ integrity and misconduct

Good research is underpinned by appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards; a culture of integrity and good governance; and support for the development of researchers.

We are signatories to the Concordat to support research integrity​​​, which sets out expectations for all those involved in research through five high-level commitments.

For more information, please see our research integrity web page​.

Public engagement with research

We support the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research, which aims to help embed public engagement in universities and research institutes by setting out clear expectations for all those involved in research. The concordat seeks to support, recognise and promote existing good practice in public engagement.

We also support a consortium of partners on a project to explore the barriers to public engagement by researchers, and look for opportunities promote discussions between researchers, universities, research institutes, funders and the public.

Research​ careers and support

The success of UK research depends on universities' ability to attract, support and reward all research staff. We support universities to do this by contributing to sector-wide initiatives such as the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

Research concordats and agreements review

Universities UK, UKRI and the Wellcome Trust have commissioned Basis Social to gather evidence on the adoption and impact of various concordats and agreements currently in place in the research sector. 



 The team

portrait of charlie coyte

Charlotte Coyte

Policy Analyst
Universities UK

Daniel Wake

Daniel Wake

Policy Manager
Universities UK


Brexit will impact the UK’s world-leading research – but only if we let it

14 October 2019
With the 31 October Brexit deadline looming, the threats it poses to the UK’s research capacity can still be resolved, writes Professor Hilary Pilkington.

LEAF – A new standard in Sustainable Science

18 September 2019
LEAF – a new independent standard which is enabling science laboratories to improve their sustainability and efficiency.

Future international partnerships: putting the UK at the heart of global research and innovation collaboration

20 October 2020
This paper proposes a wide-ranging set of policy recommendations to enable UK universities to grow and diversify their international research and innovation collaborations

front cover of report including the title and logos of institutions

Knowledge exchange concordat: summary of consultation responses

Report Consultations and responses
30 January 2020
This report provides a summary of the findings from a consultation on the draft Knowledge exchange concordat.

The concordat for research integrity

25 October 2019
A revised concordat to support research integrity to further assure government, business, international partners and the public that they can continue to have confidence in UK research and its world-leading researchers.

Open access and monographs evidence review

8 October 2019
Over the past few years, the UK has seen a shift in its policy approach towards open access (OA) and academic monographs.

Cover of Knowledge Exchange Concordat

Concordat for the advancement of Knowledge Exchange in Higher Education in England

Consultations and responses England
3 May 2019
The Concordat proposes eight high-level principles underlying KE activities, and sets out the aims and enablers to help universities make informed decisions and develop their own informed strategies around KE.

cover for open access and monographs report

UUK open access monographs group: open access and monographs

28 March 2019
This report will inform a larger piece of work on the future of open access policy for monographs.

Open access reports and recommendations

UUK Open Access Coordination Group: recommendations and guidelines for best practice

20 July 2018
Reports on open access to UK research commissioned by the Universities UK Open Access Coordination Group.

Monitoring the transition to open access: December 2017

5 December 2017
The second in a series of reports commissioned by the Universities UK Open Access Coordination Group, to examine recent trends in open access publishing.

Consultation response front cover

Response to the UK funding councils consultation on the second Research Excellence Framework

Consultations and responses
23 March 2017
We welcome the recognition by the funders that the Research Excellence Framework's (REF) primary focus is identifying research excellence, and is not intended to become an audit of all research produced in UK universities.

The concordat to support research integrity: a progress report

23 November 2016
A progress report exploring the impact and experience of the concordat to support research integrity in the four years since its publication.